The Giants lost yet again, but at least Bumgarner took a positive step

The Giants lost yet again, but at least Bumgarner took a positive step

DENVER — The Giants have lost 14 of their past 18 games, and there was nothing new to be gleaned from what happened at Coors Field on Saturday. It was a familiar feeling, so let’s take a short trip to Scottsdale and start with some good news. 

Madison Bumgarner threw about 40 pitches in a simulated game at the club’s facility there, and he came out of it feeling fine. Bruce Bochy did not have many details, but he said Bumgarner would likely repeat the drill in a couple of days, and then probably throw a third simulated game before being cleared for a rehab assignment. 

The Giants have been pretty tight-lipped about Bumgarner’s rehab schedule, and the pitcher himself has only given two extensive interviews since crashing a dirt bike here on April 20. But it does seem that Bumgarner has been slightly ahead of schedule at every checkpoint — he was supposed to throw 30 pitches Saturday — and he does have the look of a man who will try to return in July, not early August as planned. 

Whenever Bumgarner returns, he will be boarding a sinking ship. The Giants fell 5-1 on a windy, muggy day at Coors Field, making the kind of mistakes that have become so normal in this season that could end with 100 losses. Two-strike pitches across the plate. Bloops that drop in the outfield. Defensive miscommunication. Poor at-bats with runners on base. This one had it all. 

The biggest moment came in the sixth, when Bud Black forced Bochy’s hand. He intentionally walked Gorkys Hernandez with two outs and a runner on second, and Bochy had a quick conversation with Matt Cain. 

“I knew I was getting close (to the end),” said Cain. “He asked me and I told him the truth.”

Bochy sent Brandon Belt up to hit for Cain, who was charged with two runs in five innings in his best road start in two months. Belt struck out, extending his slump to 18 hitless at-bats. 

“I’m sure the pitch he would like to have back is the check-swing on 2-0. It was (going to be) 3-0 and maybe he gets a walk,” Bochy said. “He ended up striking out. That is a big swing.”

The Giants have now dropped eight straight to the Rockies, the leaders of the National League West. It is Colorado’s longest ever winning streak against an NL West opponent. Ty Blach — a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner already in this series — will try and prevent the sweep, but no matter what, the Giants will not come out of here with good vibes. 

They’re 18 games under .500. At this point, the only question is how many of the current Giants will be shipped out before Bumgarner returns. 

Giants Notes: Positive developments emerge as Bumgarner stretches it out

Giants Notes: Positive developments emerge as Bumgarner stretches it out

MILWAUKEE — Madison Bumgarner walked into the dugout during batting practice earlier this week and grabbed one of Jeff Samardzija’s bats. He started gripping it and lightly waving it back and forth, and then he looked up at trainer Dave Groeschner with an expectant look on his face.

No, Bumgarner has not yet been cleared to take batting practice, which is a downer this week. He would regularly take aim at the slide and back concourse here at Miller Park. 

There are positive signs elsewhere, however. Bumgarner has played catch nearly every day for the past week, and he’s starting to stretch out the distance. He's at about 90 feet at this point. Bumgarner has avoided giving interviews for the most part, but manager Bruce Bochy said their daily conversations are positive.

“He still has some work ahead of him, but he feels better each day,” Bochy said. “I told him, ‘Be honest, how are you feeling?’ He says as when he starts out, he feels (the shoulder) a little bit. But once he gets going it goes away. “

Bumgarner has had no setbacks during flat-ground throwing, but he’s still a ways away from getting on a mound. Bochy said it could be several more weeks. At this point, Bumgarner is in pre-spring training mode. 

In the meantime, the Giants haven’t missed much of a beat with Ty Blach inserted in the rotation. Blach is even taking his Mini Bumgarner routine into batting practice. He hit one halfway up the second deck Monday, earning cheers from the fellow pitchers. 

--- Jarrett Parker will be reevaluated once the Giants return home Friday, and after that it could just be a few days before he starts a rehab assignment. He isn’t particularly close to the big leagues, though. Bochy said Parker will need a lengthy rehab assignment, so you’re probably looking at a couple weeks or more in the minors. Bochy said Parker still can make something of a season that started with a starting job. 

“There’s plenty of time,” he said. “We’re one-third of the way through the season and he’ll be back, I’m guessing, before we’re at the halfway point.”

Parker was the first Giant to play left field this season. Austin Slater became the 12th on Tuesday. What would Bochy have said if you told him that before the season?

“I would have said things are not going very well in left field,” he said.

That’s an understatement. Entering Tuesday’s game, opening day third baseman Eduardo Nuñez had the most at-bats (66) in left field, followed by Chris Marrero (who is now playing in Japan) and Brandon Belt. 

The Giants have already had seven players get at least 10 at-bats in left and Slater should soon make it eight. By comparison, only four players did that all of last season. Only seven Giants got an at-bat in left last season (plus Cory Gearrin, who played a couple minutes defensively). 

--- Elias dug deep on the Jeff Samardzija stat we’ve all been tweeting/writing: Samardzija is actually the only pitcher in their recorded history (going back to 1900) to have a seven-start stretch of at least 50 strikeouts and just one walk. 

There's no indication that the Giants are considering including Samardzija in any mid-season sale, but he would be an interesting chip. His FIP is down to 2.90 and the xFIP is 2.73, so organizations that avoid the win-loss record will see one of the best starting pitchers in the NL. 

--- From last night, here's what Bruce Bochy had to say about Sam Dyson, who will join the Giants later this week. 

Madison Bumgarner takes next step, starts throwing program

Madison Bumgarner takes next step, starts throwing program

SAN FRANCISCO — Madison Bumgarner was on the dugout rail Monday when Hunter Strickland and Bryce Harper squared up. Bumgarner has been at the center of more on-field incidents than any Giant, but, with a strained shoulder, he could do nothing but stare and then walk toward a dugout tunnel sat teammates charged the mound. 

Perhaps it was no surprise, then, that Bumgarner walked out into left field Tuesday afternoon with a glove tucked under his arm, three days ahead of schedule. The Giants had planned to have Bumgarner play catch Friday in Philadelphia, but he threw about 45 soft pitches in front of the team’s trainers, physical therapist and coaches. 

“He’s been doing so well he wanted to bump it up and the training staff said (he could),” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He came out of it pretty good.”

Bumgarner started at 45 feet and moved out to 60. Pitching coach Dave Righetti and head trainer Dave Groeschner said they were pleased with the way he looked, and bullpen catcher Taira Uematsu — who caught Bumgarner — said he looked normal and unrestricted. 

Bumgarner flashed a huge smile as he shook Uematsu’s hand after the session. He’ll keep stretching out the flat-ground sessions and then move to a bullpen mound. The Giants still expect to be without their ace for another six to eight weeks, but he appears to have had no hiccups during what could have been a complicated rehab process. 

--- It was no surprise when Mac Williamson was optioned back to Triple-A a day after two strikeouts. Bochy said Williamson was going to have his playing time cut with Hunter Pence on the way back, and the Giants want him to get daily at-bats. It could be a while before we see Williamson back up here, with Calixte now getting a look and Jarrett Parker a few days from a rehab assignment. It’ll be up to him to force the issue. 

Pence, by the way, ran the bases for the first time since getting hurt. He’ll likely begin a rehab assignment Thursday. Conor Gillaspie (back tightness) is a couple days behind him.